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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
TEA Party Tax Day; Same-Sex Partners Hospital Visitation; Massive Fireball Lights Up Sky; Kevorkian - Dr. Death; A New Way of Learning
Aired April 15, 2010 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight, "Keeping Them Honest." On tax day the TEA Party Express turns up its volume they say taxes are too high and government too expensive. Are they right? We'll give you the facts and let you decide.
Also tonight, breaking news: President Obama moving to end discrimination against same-sex couples in hospitals; there's breaking news on that. We'll have an exclusive interview with a woman who was kept from her partner's side and has fought to change the law. The president called her today from Air Force One with the news of his decision.
And later, The "Big 360 Interview" Jack Kevorkian, Dr. Death out of jail and off for parole and he talks freely about what he did and what he would still like to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Are you in touch with people who want to end their life?
JACK KEVORKIAN, "DR. DEATH": Not right now. No. No, they all assume, like the judge says, "You have now been stopped." Well, she was wrong, I haven't.
COOPER: You haven't been stopped?
KEVORKIAN: No, of course not. I still push for this issue. And when the chance comes, I'll do it the way it should be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: First up tonight, "Keeping Them Honest," it is tax day as you no doubt know, the TEA Party Express held a big rally in Washington today. Thousands showed up. Two of the reasons, the size of government and the amount of money needed to pay for it.
Now, here's last year tax haul, $2.2 trillion, take a breath that is how much the federal government collected. Tonight, a new CNN poll shows about half of Americans think the federal tax system is fair while half think it's unfair. The TEA Party activists clearly in unfair count they say they are paying too much in taxes. But we wanted to look at how much we now pay in taxes compared to what we used to pay into other countries. So let's go over to the wall here. Now, if you are in the highest tax bracket this year, your marginal tax rate well, it's over here it's 35 percent. Now, 50 years ago, this is what it was, 91 percent. Imagine that.
That's a huge drop obviously for those at the top end of the tax pool. But of course, most Americans now are in the middle of the tax pool. So let's look at their effective tax rate what they pay after deductions and tax credits. Fifty years ago, over here a family of four in the exact middle of the income spectrum was taxed at a rate of just eight percent and 7.7 percent. In 1980, what they actually paid in taxes peaked at just under 12 percent.
And since then with a couple of exception it's been falling this year, it's estimated that the same family of four will pay only 4.6 percent of its income in federal taxes.
Now, on the low end of the scale, let's look at a household earning less than $30,000, you probably don't pay any federal income taxes.
I also want to show you one more thing. Remember the 35 percent that Americans in the highest tax bracket pay today? I want to show you how that compares to other countries.
In Australia, the highest marginal rate is 45 percent. In France 40 percent, Germany, 45 percent, Japan, 40 percent and Netherlands has the highest mark -- and look at this, 52 percent over here for the Netherlands and in the U.K., it is 40 percent.
Now, keep in mind most of these countries also have national sales taxes that add another 20 percent on to the burden.
Now, we want to point out that many TEA Party activists are concerned about what is also coming in the years ahead. Now, understandably so, the Obama administration ten-year budget plan calls for a tax increase of nearly a trillion, including more than $630 billion in personal income taxes on people making more than $250,000.
Now, that's a result of the Bush tax cuts ending as scheduled as well as a hike in capital gains; $353 billion comes from American businesses.
Let's talk about that now, let's talk about the "Raw Politics," Jessica Yellin and John Avlon, CNN contributor and senior political writer at the Daily Beast.
Jessica, we should also point out, there were scheduled protests in cities across the country by TEA Party protest groups. It wasn't just in Washington.
You spent a lot of time out there today with the protestors. What was the mood like out there?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, what struck me most is how much the anger had dissipated. This was a very different crowd from even the group I saw a few a weeks ago in Nevada and from the kinds of angry protests we saw during the health care debate, they were calm, they were friendly.
Their issues were taxes and the government spending as you mentioned. They say we want to throw these bums out. But most of all, I saw not even one sign that you could interpret as racist. There were people up on the podium calling out to the audience and saying we are not a racist movement. And if you see somebody doing anything that strikes you as in inappropriate, let us know about them.
So whether they are getting PR savvy or just concerned, clearly the tone here has shifted -- Anderson.
COOPER: It was interesting. There was the CBS/New York Times poll that was just released. The question was, do you think too much is made of the problems facing black people? A majority of the TEA Party activist said yes, compared with just 28 percent of all Americans.
But clearly, you're saying today there was a move to try to just make sure that there weren't any -- nothing that would be objectionable.
YELLIN: So that nobody could at least perceive these ads in anyway racist. The crowd is still overwhelmingly white. But the message is, "Racism and attacks on race are not what we're about. We're about a message about taxes and spending that crosses race lines."
COOPER: There was all this talk by some liberal groups about showing up and kind of disrupting things by holding up other signs and pretending to be TEA Party activists and kind of trying to hurt them from within. Did you see any of that?
YELLIN: I didn't. There were some clear liberal protests. And it was clearly protests by liberals. But the idea of anybody infiltrating to be misleading and looked like TEA Partiers, that -- I didn't see any signs of that.
COOPER: All right. It's interesting, John, the Democrats big push this week has been we're the party that's going to lower your taxes. But most people don't feel like their taxes have been lowered.
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. I mean, you know, there's a historical reason why the Democrats have a credibility gap on this issue. They have been historically associated with high taxes and high spending fairly enough --
COOPER: And big government obviously.
AVLON: -- then big government.
But now, what's interesting is that this year actually, the federal tax burden has fallen on most Americans. So there's actually while taxes are going up next year, this year more Americans paid less in federal income taxes.
COOPER: People don't feel that.
AVLON: No, they don't.
And let's look, we are in an economic recession there's a lot of economic anxiety. There's a lot -- in addition to political frustration. What's interesting though, is the TEA Partiers' number one issue, is spending. The Citizens against Government Waste came with their report yesterday that showed that the number of pork barrel products and their cost has also gone down over the last year with the Democratic Congress.
So to some extent they're -- you know, competing with a phantom menace here. But the overall issue of deficit and debt is relevant, is important. And taxes are going up next year.
COOPER: Right. And there is a big concern about what's coming down the pipe.
COOPER: I mean we know taxes are going to be going up especially on those making more than $250,000.
AVLON: That's exactly right.
And so those issues, there's a clearly an emotional sense that this is coming that way. Already, we've seen some state legislatures raising taxes, some local governments. We know that there's debt and deficit coming down the pipe. And people are angry and animated about that --
AVLON: -- and they should be.
The problem is when it explodes into some of the strangers we've seen. But this protest and Jessica is there, it seems to be very orderly and that's to their great credit.
COOPER: Jessica, there was a new TEA Party list today of races where they want to have an impact this year. Where in particular are they targeting?
YELLIN: Well, there is a number of House races. But the big ones they're targeting, Anderson, are senate races. There's Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas; Barbara Boxer, a Democratic Senator in California; Arlen Specter who as you know in Pennsylvania, switched from Republican to Democrat. They really want to get him.
But their number one target above all is Harry Reid in Nevada, both because he's the face of Democrats in Washington as the leader in the Senate but also because they really think that he's getable. He's been targeted for a long time. They think it would be sort of taking down one of the three faces of the Democratic Party with Pelosi and Obama. And they do plan to spend a lot of money there, advertise against him and try to make their impact felt. If Reid loses re- election, TEA Party protesters will take full credit for that -- Anderson.
COOPER: No doubt about that. John Avlon and Jessica Yellin, thanks very much.
So where exactly do all our tax dollars go? Remember last year the federal government hauled in more than $2 trillion in taxes. Tom Foreman is here to show us all where it went.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, most of us have our take home pay spoken for ahead of time for the mortgage, the car, utilities, insurance, food, all of that. And so does the federal government.
Out of the billions we pour into the federal piggy bank every year, the vast amount is already committed before Congress or the President spends a dime.
So let's break down where all the pennies go out of a single of your tax dollars. And right away you can see what some of the biggest parts are here: defense and security.
We have the biggest, most powerful military in the world. And we pay for it, about 20 cents out of every dollar.
Social security, we have a lot of older people in this country who are living a long time, 20 cents more to them.
Third, health programs, Medicare, Medicaid and others they grab around 21 cents. Programs like food stamps, housing and heating assistance, child care assistance collectively take another 14 cents.
We have benefits for veterans, and retired federal workers. That's seven cents. And I should note here, you can move some of these numbers around for example and say the cost of veterans is a military expense.
That's why you might see different charts from time to time and fractions of pennies means it this doesn't add up to exactly a dollar but it's pretty close.
Ever run up a credit card bill and you have to pay interest? This is ours, six cents on every one of your tax dollars.
So look, we've spent 88 cents already. And these are all pretty much obligations. We haven't even started on what we might want to buy with our money.
But now, let's look at that little piece of pie that we have left. We spend a few pennies on science and research. Like the space program, a few more on transportation, on bridges and highways. We spend some for education and some for international efforts. And look what we have left. Four cents for everything else it takes to run a government. But here is something to bear in mind with all of this. If we talk about each dollar we're spending, our taxes are only covering about 60 percent these days. The rest is being borrowed -- Anderson.
COOPER: A lot of borrowing.
Go to AC360.com to see which states are hit hardest by taxes and see how your state ranks.
The live chat is up and running right now at AC360.com.
Let us know, do you think taxes are fair or unfair? But the country seems about evenly divided, which kind of surprised me.
Just ahead: breaking news that could signal a major change for same-sex couples who are now denied the right to make decisions and to visit their partners in hospitals. My exclusive interview with a woman kept from her dying partner's side until it was too late.
Plus, the situation Iceland: this major eruption that's disrupting plane travel. And this fireball in the sky over the Midwest; what was it? A lot of folks thought it was a UFO. We'll explain what it was, ahead.
COOPER: Breaking news tonight, President Barack Obama moving to end discrimination in hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples. Today, he told the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a rule that would prevent hospitals from denying visitation privileges to gay and lesbian partners.
Now, the new rule would allow patients to decide who can visit them and would prevent discrimination based on a number of characteristics including sexual orientation. The new guidance will affect most hospitals in the country.
The President said the current -- that the current "relatives only" policy hospitals mean that gay and lesbians Americans are and I quote, "Often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives, unable to be there for the person they love and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated."
That is exactly what happened to Janice Langbehn. She lost her partner Lisa three years ago and was not permitted to see her before she died. They've been together for 17 years and were raising four children together. Janice's case is what motivated President Obama to act today.
Janice, what does this mean for you today?
JANICE LANGBEHN, DENIED VISITATION RIGHTS: I was really humbled to know that my three years of speaking out against what happened to our family has come to fruition, not just at Jackson Memorial who changed their policies this week but now across the U.S.
COOPER: Tell us a little bit about what happened to you. You and your kids were with your partner in Florida. You were there for a cruise, for a trip. Lisa collapsed and she was taken to the hospital.
I mean, how did they say that you weren't allowed to see her?
LANGBEHN: My partner collapsed. And when she got to the hospital, which was about 3:00 o'clock -- 3:30 Florida time, a social worker Garnett Fredrick came out and told me, quote, "You are in an anti-gay city and state and won't get to see your partner nor know of her condition."
And then I turned and walked away and I said, "But wait a minute, I have a power of attorney." So he came back and gave me his fax number and within 20 minutes of him telling me that they had our legal documents.
COOPER: So wait a minute, you had --
LANGBEHN: -- But I continued --
COOPER: -- you have the legal documents needed. You had advanced directives and you had a power of attorney?
LANGBEHN: I did. Yes.
COOPER: And yet they still wouldn't let you see her.
LANGBEHN: Because I have -- yes, because I have multiple sclerosis so we were planning for anything like this. And it didn't matter to this hospital.
COOPER: They finally did let you see her briefly, but only when they were reading her, her last rights. Is that right?
LANGBEHN: Yes. A chaplain came to me and I said I need a priest immediately. And I didn't want the children to see her for the first time that way because I didn't know what I would see. And so just -- I went back to see the last rights.
And she must have had some amount of consciousness. Because she was restrained to the bed at that point, so not verbal or conscious.
And then they, after the five minute ceremony brought me back out and I continued to wait another -- with the kids -- another five hours. And it wasn't until her sister showed up from Jacksonville, that then I was allowed in to have access to my partner of 17 years.
COOPER: And I understand -- I understand that when her sister showed up, they instantly started talking to her sister saying what room she was in telling her -- telling her sister details that they hadn't talk to you about.
LANGBEHN: That's correct. They had actually kept us in the waiting room at the trauma center for a whole hour. And it wasn't until her sister showed up, and said, "Oh, we moved her an hour ago. And yet, I had been standing there for the last eight hours. And they didn't have the decency to tell me they'd even moved her.
COOPER: What did the -- the President actually called you today. What did he say?
LANGBEHN: That was pretty shocking. He said that he -- apologized for how our family was treated, which is something I have been asking Jackson Memorial to do. They refuse to apologize to me and our children.
COOPER: That's the hospital in Florida.
LANGBEHN: That's the hospital in Florida. They refused to apologize to the kids and I. But the President did which makes up for a lot. And then said that he had directed HHS to this memorandum that he was signing today so that patients could decide who their -- who their family is, who their circle of intimacy was.
And I thanked him. Because I believe this will be Lisa's legacy. That she didn't die in vain.
COOPER: What do you think Lisa would think about all this?
LANGBEHN: She was a pretty quiet person. She'd be pretty shocked at all the, you know, the outpouring of support that we're getting. Even at the time -- even at the time of her death, her memorial was overflowing because Lisa touched so many people's lives.
But now, it's another chance to celebrate who she was. She donated her organs. And we know the gentleman who has her heart. I know he's out there smiling for you know what he's gotten from her. And I know the kids and I are just amazed at what she's been able to accomplish through her death.
COOPER: I've read something you said and I just want to read out to our viewers. You'd said, "To hold Lisa's hand was not a gay right, it was a human right."
LANGBEHN: Yes, I said that from the minute it happened. Yes, I didn't make this up. The social worker said it to me. And I truly believe that who you want at the moment of your death should not be defined by blood relation.
COOPER: Janice Langbehn I appreciate you talking to us tonight. Thank you.
LANGBEHN: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up next in the program, the mysterious explosion over the Midwest skies. The night lit up. People from several states saw it; a lot of people thought it was a UFO, a lot of people scratching their heads. We'll tell you what is coming up.
Also tonight: Dr. Jack Kevorkian talking about life and death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How many people in total did you help die?
KEVORKIAN: It's around 130.
COOPER: Around --
KEVORKIAN: A little more than 130.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: He wasn't sure of the exact number. We'll explain that, ahead. He also said the first machine he used to help people died was made with parts he found at a flea market. He had a lot more to tell us.
"The Big 360 Interview" with Dr. Kevorkian is ahead.
COOPER: A mysterious fireball lit up the sky across the Midwest. So bright, witnesses say it turned night into day. The sheriff's departments in at least five states were flooded with calls last night. Some people thought they've seen a UFO.
Our question of course is what is it? Joining me now to explain the phenomenon is meteorologist Chad Myers. Chad, what do you make of this?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think, it's part of the Gamma Virginids meteor shower. They are not very popular, you know, you've heard all other ones, you don't hear that one very much.
But it's going to go, yesterday was the peak. It kind of makes sense that we ran through something, the earth ran through it. And this meteor came down and through.
It even showed up on the Doppler radar in parts of southwestern, Wisconsin. So it's iron, right? It's kind of a -- the meteorite iron. So as it comes through it just reflects that radar. Some people thought that it was in fact, rain on the radar.
But it just happened too quickly and there you see the flashing there, it exploded in the air. And this is very popular. And this is a normal thing for it to do. And when it explodes in the air then it makes more showers and that's when you get the big bright flash.
Also people reported there that were sonic booms going on last night as well, as it came through the atmosphere.
COOPER: And how often does this happen?
MYERS: We go through it every year, once a year at this time.
COOPER: OK. MYERS: But they are rarely anything like that; most of the time we just kind of see some small sparks and showers. Not like this. This was almost an explosion.
COOPER: All right, what's going on in Iceland? There's this huge eruption. Flights I guess, to Europe were -- were stopped for awhile. How long could the eruption last?
MYERS: I think this could last a long time. This is a significant event for Europe and for plane travel. You cannot fly an airplane, especially a jet plane through ash.
I know that looks nice -- you know, all compacted and you could fly around it. But as it gets more diffuse, away from the volcano itself, there's ash in the sky and you can't see it.
Ash actually melts in the jet plane itself. In the engine, it melts and becomes obsidian (ph), it becomes like lava glass. And you don't want that lave glass in your jet plane because in the jet itself, it will stop running and the plane will fall out of the sky.
This is not just something like, hey, we are cautioning you not to fly. Literally --
COOPER: Yes. I mean thousands of flight have been cancelled.
MYERS: -- Anderson, air space is closed. Right here: London, Heathrow, Gatwick, Charles, De Gaulle, all the U.K. air space. Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, all closed because there is ash coming down from this.
And I'm going to draw a line and show you where it's coming from. There's the volcano into Iceland. It should, the ash should just kind of trail off into Sweden and Norway and go into Northern Russia. It's not happening because of the way the jet stream is bringing it down across the U.K. It's then going to swing it back over toward the Canary Islands and then into the Mediterranean.
Travelers could be stranded for weeks if this ash doesn't get out of the way very quickly. And I don't see it. When it does this, it's going to be floating around that atmosphere for a very long time.
COOPER: So there's no way right now for planes to just kind of go -- go around it?
MYERS: No. Absolutely not, because you are in it; when the ash is over you, you can't fly up and through it.
This is what an ash particle looks like under big time magnification. You wouldn't want that in your lungs even if you're flying through it you would get it in the atmosphere of the airplane. You certainly wouldn't want that in an engine. And that will melt in a jet.
Look at this. It's just so -- so very coarse and just scouring in the jet. And it literally brings the jet engine to a standstill and then plane would fall out of the sky with no power.
COOPER: All right.
MYERS: You just can't have that.
COOPER: It's unbelievable. Chad, thanks very much.
COOPER: -- stories tonight, Joe Johns joins us with the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a "360 Follow" tonight. Charges have been dropped against nine of the ten American missionaries held in Haiti earlier this year. They were accused of trying to kidnap Haitian children after January's earthquake. The group's leader, Laura Silsby, remains in a Haitian jail.
Rescuers in northwest China airlifted hundreds of earthquake survivors to hospitals today. The country's state-run news agency says the death toll from Wednesdays 6.9 magnitude quake has hit 760 and more than 11,000 have been injured.
U.S. home foreclosures are at a record high according to RealtyTrac. Bank repossessions spiked in the first three months of 2010, up 16 percent from a year ago. The firm says it's a sign banks are finally getting through their backlog of troubled home loans.
And we've got to look at the Obama's 2009 tax returns today. The First Couple made $5.5 million last year, mostly from sales of the President's book. They paid nearly $1.8 million in taxes and reported nearly $330,000 in donations to 40 different charities -- Anderson.
All right. Joe, thanks.
Coming up next, right now our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers to come up with a caption better than the one we can come up with for the photo that we put on the blog every day.
Tonight's picture: German Chancellor Angela Merkel visiting with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in Los Angeles today. The staff winner tonight is Ben and his caption, "Oh shut up already and take me to this In-and-out Burger I keep hearing about."
It should probably -- it should have been or I shut up already and take me to this in and out burger where I keep hearing about.
JOHNS: All right.
COOPER: The viewer winner is John, from Germantown, Tennessee, his caption, "We have agreed to increase trade to help our economies. Our first exports from Callyfornia to Germany will be Nancy Pelosi and Britney Spears."
Didn't even get that one.
John thanks very much. Your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way.
Coming up next: Dr. Jack Kevorkian, out of prison after eight years off parole, parole of two years, speaking out freely tonight in a very candid interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVORKIAN: What's a doctor supposed to do, turn his back? If he's a coward, he is.
COOPER: But a lot of doctors do, though.
KEVORKIAN: Well, they are cowards. Doctors are cowards, you know that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In tonight's "Big 360 Interview," Jack Kevorkian, known of course as Dr. Death. He helped his first patient end her life in 1990. Dr. Kevorkian has participated in at least 130 assisted suicides. And after serving 8 years and 3 months in prison and being on parole for 2 years, he's now a free man. Yet he's convinced that what he was doing was right.
He's now the subject of a new HBO film called, "You Don't Know Jack." Al Pacino plays in the movie.
Dr. Jack Kevorkian joined me earlier today for a very candid and revealing conversation.
COOPER: How many people, in total, did you help die?
KEVORKIAN: It's around 130.
COOPER: Around --
KEVORKIAN: A little more than 130.
COOPER: You are not sure of the exact number?
KEVORKIAN: Well, I was helped by a colleague, a psychiatrist who joined me near the end, the only doctor who offered to join me. In fact the only doctor who would do any -- who would cooperate with me.
COOPER: And the first time you did it, who was the first?
KEVORKIAN: Janet Atkins (ph).
COOPER: And that was in a van.
KEVORKIAN: In a van.
COOPER: Why in a van?
KEVORKIAN: I couldn't find anywhere. I tried nursing homes, churches, hospitals, clinics.
COOPER: You didn't want to do it at your apartment?
KEVORKIAN: No, because the police would raid the apartment, clean it out. And I didn't want to involve anybody else in it like the landlord.
COOPER: I mean, what is that like to end somebody's life in a van?
KEVORKIAN: You are not ending their life. I didn't do it to end the life. I did it to end the suffering the patient is going through. The patient is obviously suffering.
What is a doctor supposed to do, turn his back? If he's a coward he is.
COOPER: A lot of doctors do, though.
KEVORKIAN: Well, they are cowards. Doctor's are cowards, you know that. They won't take anything that's going to hurt their income or their reputation; anything that's impossible -- any illegal thing that's going to possibly be damaging.
COOPER: I mean do you have nightmares about it? Did you ever feel --
KEVORKIAN: No. No. I don't think a doctor should have a nightmare about any medical procedure or else he's not a doctor.
COOPER: Did you find it sad?
KEVORKIAN: Of course. You don't like to end a life. Look, if a doctor -- if somebody has cancer of the bone, the hip, you don't take their leg off at the joint, the hip joint because you want to do it and say, "I want to take that leg off. I can't wait to take that leg off."
No. The leg has to come off to save their life. Unfortunately, it entails the loss of a leg.
COOPER: But a lot of people, as you know, say, "Look, you are playing God."
KEVORKIAN: Isn't the doctor who takes a leg off playing God?
COOPER: You are saying doctors play God all the time?
KEVORKIAN: Of course. Anytime you interfere with a natural process, you are playing God. God determines what happens naturally. That means that when a person is ill, he shouldn't go to a doctor because he's asking for interference with God's will.
Of course, a patient can't think that way. They want to live as long as possible and not suffer. So, they call a doctor to help them end the suffering.
COOPER: Are you a religious man?
COOPER: Do you believe in God?
KEVORKIAN: I don't know. Is there a God?
Look, I'm a scientist. A doctor is always a scientist.
COOPER: Do you fear death?
KEVORKIAN: As much as anyone else. I fear it only because I like living so much because I feel good.
COOPER: If you were ill, if you had a terminal illness or in pain, would you take your own life?
KEVORKIAN: If it was unending pain and there was no cure, of course. I'm doing this for me. It's my natural right. That's in the Constitution, in the ninth amendment, which is ignored.
I have a natural right to do whatever I want with my body, anything, as long as it doesn't affect anybody else or any other property and I give permission, myself permission to do it.
That's true of anything. I help a patient only with his permission to do what I think is necessary and it's all laid out in detail to the patient.
COOPER: Do you think you have had an impact? Do you think you've --
KEVORKIAN: I don't know.
COOPER: -- been successful?
KEVORKIAN: I think this film may have an impact because it's emotional and very powerful. But what -- it helps the issue and that's what counts. Whether it helps me or not is irrelevant. And I like that because it helps the issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you I'm not going to touch your food. It would be an admission of guilt. You know. I can go for weeks without food. Like Ghandi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look worse than Ghandi, Jack. You look like one of your patients. It's been three days, come on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not moving. I'm not paying that bond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't have to, I did. Come on, let's go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't? You paid my bail?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I bailed you out. Let's go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of lawyer does that? What's the matter with you, Jeff? Don't you see I'm denying myself nourishment? I'm starving to death for three days to make a point.
This is a protest. They violated my rights. You are not supposed to bail me out; defeats the purpose. I should fire you, you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's Al Pacino as Dr. Kevorkian. Up next, more of the "Big 360 Interview" with Dr. Kevorkian and how he helped people take their lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVORKIAN: I would set up the machine, all the solutions and everything in the intravenous line. And then the patient would hit a switch and start everything flowing.
COOPER: He actually injected the final patient and he served time in jail for that; eight years, three months. Two years on parole.
Would he do it, again? His answer ahead.
COOPER: Before the break, you heard Dr. Jack Kevorkian defending his role in helping more than 130 people die. He said he did it and they're suffering. Dr. Kevorkian also insisted that he wanted to be convicted. He served eight years in prison.
He remains an extremely polarizing person and a fascinating one as well. Now, later this month HBO is going to premiere a film on his life. Al Pacino plays Dr. Kevorkian. It's called "You Don't Know Jack."
Here now is more of the "Big 360 Interview" with Dr. Kevorkian.
COOPER: You used different ways of ending people's lives.
COOPER: At first, what did you use? KEVORKIAN: I had to devise a way to do it. The patient was a quadriplegic who wanted a doctor to come and help him die. I said, "Look, I can help you, but it's illegal. So I have to find a way to do it legally. I'll get back in touch with you."
In the meantime, I was working on a way to do it.
COOPER: You basically just came up with an idea in your mind to make a machine.
KEVORKIAN: That's right. That would save me from having to do it.
COOPER: A machine that would allow the person to actually end their own lives.
KEVORKIAN: That's right. I would set up the machine, all the solutions and everything in the intravenous line. And then the patient would hit a switch and start everything it flowing.
COOPER: Later on, you started using a gas.
KEVORKIAN: Yes because they stopped -- they took away my license for the controlled substance.
COOPER: So you couldn't get access to --
KEVORKIAN: No. So they made it harder for me and harder for the patient. But that didn't bother them. They don't care about the patient suffering.
COOPER: So you actually -- so what you would put something over their head and give them a gas?
KEVORKIAN: No. We first tried one case where the thing -- I devised it over the head of a plastic. You could see through transparent. But the patient panicked and said, "Stop it, stop it." So, I stopped it. We stopped it.
I said why don't we try it another day. He said no, do it now. He was determined to end it. He had severe emphysema. That's helps your panic. When you breathe -- you have trouble breathing -- when you're breathing carbon monoxide gas, when you have carbon monoxide poisoning at night when you sleep, it doesn't wake you up. You die.
In other words it's not so disturbing that it would wake you up. Therefore it can't be too disturbing when you take it awake.
COOPER: And the final patient, Tom Youk, that case was different.
COOPER: You actually injected him yourself.
KEVORKIAN: That's right. That's right. COOPER: You actually injected him because you wanted to go to court.
KEVORKIAN: I wanted to bring the case so that I get standing. They can't say they didn't get the particularized case they wanted.
COOPER: You thought it would go to the Supreme Court and that basically this would change the law of the land.
KEVORKIAN: I hope it's going to get -- I doubt it though because I knew the court was corrupt.
COOPER: I want to just show a little video that you made prior to the injection.
KEVORKIAN: Sure. Sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVORKIAN: We are ready to inject. We are going to inject in your right arm. Ok? Tom? You asleep? He's asleep.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: When you see that, what do you think?
KEVORKIAN: That the law has forced me to do this in the most undignified way.
COOPER: You think it's undignified?
KEVORKIAN: Of course it is. There's no family there. We are alone. Two of us. I can't risk anybody else's life.
COOPER: You had told his family that he should -- they should leave.
KEVORKIAN: You must not be there because they'll try to prosecute you as an accomplice or something. You don't know because they're cruel. The law is cruel. They don't care about the patient. They care about the letter of the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bond is set for $50,000.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You going to pay that today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is beyond egregious, your honor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no way I'm going to pay a bond like that, your honor. You can forget it. You can forget it. Because this is the last time you people --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jack. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- unjustly take away from me my liberties, the last time. I will not -- hear me now, -- I will not eat. Guaranteed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I apologize for my client, your honor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are assisting in my suicide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jack, Jack, Jack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You are off parole now, right?
KEVORKIAN: Oh, yes. I have only two years after I got out of prison on parole.
COOPER: So you are a free man?
COOPER: Would you do it, again? Would you help somebody --
KEVORKIAN: Under certain circumstances, yes. As long as I know and they're not going to throw me in jail again and imprison me. Yes, I would do it again.
COOPER: Have you had people approach you for help to end their life?
KEVORKIAN: They've approached me. I got letters from them even when I was in prison. They wanted help. They wanted advice how to do it. I couldn't do that in prison.
COOPER: Can you give advice to people now? KEVORKIAN: Not in parole. It stopped it. With parole ending, I can give any advice I want.
COOPER: So now you could give advice?
KEVORKIAN: Absolutely. Notice I'm talking very freely about it.
COOPER: And are you in touch with people who want to end their lives?
KEVORKIAN: Not right now. No. They all assume, like the judge says, "You have now been stopped." But she was wrong. I haven't.
COOPER: You haven't been stopped?
KEVORKIAN: No, of course not. I still push for this issue. And when the chance comes, I'll do it the way it should be done.
COOPER: What do you mean? You will help someone else end their life?
KEVORKIAN: Because you have it in three states so far.
COOPER: Oregon, Washington.
KEVORKIAN: It's not done right. That's not a medical service. A doctor can't be involved. Illegal. They'll be punished. AMA says, "You will lose your license." Scares the hell out of them.
COOPER: So will you build another machine?
KEVORKIAN: I don't need a machine. A doctor can do the injecting. The machine was just to avoid being charged with having committed the crime.
COOPER: But you don't have access to the pharmaceuticals anymore, do you?
KEVORKIAN: Not yet. But if it were legal, in other words, if the law stepped out of the picture, if religion stopped pushing this opposition, then we could do it like a regular medical procedure, which it should be.
COOPER: Tomorrow night, we're going to have more with Dr. Kevorkian. We'll also talk with the stars of the film, the director of the film about Dr. Kevorkian. Susan Sarandon, John Goodman and director Barry Levinson join me tomorrow night.
Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: This kind of thing doesn't happen without a conversation with your family members. I mean, it's not something -- it's usually, I mean, from what I understand -- correct me if I'm wrong -- it's something that people have been discussing for a long time, sometimes for years.
You know, it's a very difficult, complicated -- because you want to give your loved ones the opportunity to take care of you. That's something that sometimes is very important for them, too.
But at a certain point, they want to give you the gift of not suffering in whatever way, the fear of not being able to swallow. I mean, there are very specific things. And people are educated about what's in store for them. And they want to be dignified in their end.
And again, you know, it's something that, if you have money, is it really as much of a question? Because it happens all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We'll have more of the conversation with them tomorrow. And a reminder: the HBO film, "You Don't Know Jack," which I've seen, by the way. And it's a remarkable film no matter which side of the argument you -- you happen to believe in. It is a remarkable film. "You Don't Know Jack" premiers Saturday, April 24 at 9 p.m. Eastern.
Up next, transforming education and inspiring kids to stay in school. How one program is making a big difference.
Tonight's "Perry's Principles" report from education contributor Steve Perry when we continue.
COOPER: We're following several other stories. Joe Johns has a "360 Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, an update on that volcanic ash situation that's grounded flights all over Europe. The situation is not improving, the U.K. announcing that airports will remain closed throughout the day tomorrow until at least until 7 p.m. local time at the earliest.
During mass today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict appeared to talk about the sex-abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church. The Pontiff spoke of the need to, quote, "open ourselves to forgiveness" and quote, "let ourselves be transformed." In recent weeks, Pope Benedict and the Vatican have come under fire for how they've handled some abuse cases in Europe and the U.S.
The Russian government has suspended all adoptions by Americans after that Tennessee family sent that 7-year-old adopted boy back to Moscow alone with a letter claiming he's violent and psychotic. Russian authorities say the freeze will not be lifted until new rules covering adoptions can be negotiated with U.S. officials.
At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, President Obama pledging 100 percent commitment to NASA and its future. Mr. Obama wants to add $6 billion to the agency's budget over the next five years while halting a return to the moon. Instead, the goal is a mission to Mars within 25 years.
And scientists believe they've come up with a way to prevent serious genetic disorders among children. Give them three -- that's right -- three parents. Researchers at U.K.'s Newcastle University say the three-way in vitro fertilization they've come up with can create embryos that hold the DNA of two women and one man. This allows them, they say, to swap damaged DNA from one woman for healthy genetic material, Anderson.
COOPER: That sort of blows my mind.
JOHNS: Yes. That's amazing. Isn't it?
COOPER: Yes. We'll hear more on that.
All right, Joe, thanks.
Tonight we continue our new special series "Perry's Principles." CNN contributor Steve Perry is highlighting ways to transform education in America. He takes us to Manchester School of Technology in New Hampshire where an alternative program is keeping kids in school. In fact the governor attributes the program to lowering the state's dropout rate.
Take a look.
STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: So as you went through school, did you miss a lot of school?
CHRIS GRAY, STUDENT, MANCHESTER SCHOOL OF TECHNOLOGY: When I started high school, yes, I did.
PERRY: Right. What's a lot to you?
GRAY: I was tardy every day or suspended every other time I went in the school. I wanted to go to school. I was just caught in a cycle of like screwing up and being suspended.
PERRY: Would you consider yourself a dropout at any point?
GRAY: Oh, yes.
PERRY: Really? What were you going to do?
PERRY: As a what?
JOHN BRIDGELAND, CEO, CIVIC ENTERPRISES: When you compare high school dropouts and their lifetime earnings compared to college graduates, college graduates will earn on average about a million dollars more over their life times.
PERRY: So you get here, smaller classes, curriculum that you're engaged in.
GRAY: They knew how to treat me. They knew how to treat me differently than teachers at Central.
PERRY: What did they do differently?
GRAY: They connect -- it's just this (INAUDIBLE) where they connected more. They were with me a whole 100 minutes instead of 45 minutes. They didn't prejudge me when I came in.
PERRY: So this is a dropout prevention on some level program?
KAREN WHITE, PRINCIPAL, MANCHESTER SCHOOL OF TECHNOLOGY: Absolutely.
PERRY: How do you know when a student is likely to drop out?
WHITE: The biggest factor usually is the absenteeism. And even though we have a much more stringent policy here, we only allow for three absences. And as soon as the students start with the attendance issues, we start calling home right away. Because that's usually -- something's going on, whether it's a home issue, a drug issue, alcohol, we know that something's wrong.
PERRY: What do you feel makes this program successful?
WHITE: I would say it's just that the students are engaged. They're actually doing -- it's real life learning.
PERRY: So now you're here. How old are you?
GRAY: I'm 21 now.
PERRY: You're 21. You're going to graduate from high school.
GRAY: Yes, June 10th I graduate.
PERRY: Now I hear that you have an interest in education.
PERRY: What do you want to do?
GRAY: I want to teach.
PERRY: How cool is that?
GRAY: It's pretty cool actually.
PERRY: What's the reason you want to be a teacher?
GRAY: They're the people who've had the most impact on me. They made me turn my life around. They just did.
PERRY: Governor Lynch, it's a pleasure to be here in New Hampshire. We had an opportunity to go visit one of your very, very successful programs, one of which students are really engaged into education.
GOV. JOHN LYNCH, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, I really believe strongly that education is all about opportunity, the opportunity that we offer to our children to have better lives.
The students in the past program tell me that they would have dropped out of school if it hadn't been for the pass program or for alternative education. In some cases they actually dropped out and then came back to school.
But what they want, they want the personal attention. They want the flexibility. They want smaller classrooms. And they want to learn in ways other than just the traditional way that we all learn growing up.
PERRY: And it is working. In the past year, how much has the dropout rate gone down in New Hampshire?
LYNCH: Our dropout rate declined 30 percent in the past year. It's now at 1.7 percent.
PERRY: So when you started this project, why did you choose 2012 as the time in which for you in New Hampshire there will be no more dropouts? That is quite an edict.
LYNCH: Well, and it's very, very aggressive --
LYNCH: -- very aggressive to say by 2012 we have a goal. I think you need to have a goal. You need to have a line in the sand. And also, it needs to be aggressive because if it's aggressive, people get excited about it. They'll approach it with a sense of urgency.
If I had said let's do it in 2020, you know, people might have yawned and said it was good. But there would have been no sense of urgency to get it done. Now there is. And what we see here in New Hampshire is everybody working together.
PERRY: Anderson, the challenge this week was to insure that every single child can graduate from high school. That's a challenge that we've seen all over the country. The dropout rate continues to rise in certain communities. Therefore, the principle this week is that every child can, in fact, go to a good school.
COOPER: And that's it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts right now.
I'll see you tomorrow night.